Just keeping an eye on tweets and headlines over the last couple of weeks, I saw that reviews were pretty strongly mixed; people either came out saying it was The Best Summer Blockbuster Ever or shaking their fists at it. I knew that Cumberbatch's character was actually Khan, not just from viewer confirmation, but because Abrams denied that "John Harrison" was Khan so relentlessly that he obviously was, in fact, Khan. If he really were not Khan, there would be no reason not to let people go on and think that he was--maybe even play with that expectation. (The most cynical--and likely?--explanation I heard was that Abrams didn't want to deal with months of people complaining that they had cast Khan Noonien Singh as the whitest dude ever.) Basically, they did the exact opposite of what Shane Black did with the Mandarin in Iron Man 3, and it worked the opposite of well. But it didn't actually bother me--again, I was expecting it. I also heard a lot of complaints about plot holes and diminishing stakes, but... *shrug*? Look, I think my actual favorite movie last year was Prometheus. Not the best movie, but my favorite. Clearly I have no problem with movies that are utterly wackadoo nonsensical. You throw in great actors and amazing sets and hilariously awesome/awesomely hilarious plot developments, and you have my sword. So I have no idea why this movie left me cold.
NUMBERED THOUGHTS ARE ORGANIZED THOUGHTS:
1) I actually didn't have as many issues with it as some of the angrier reviewers/fans did; I'm not sure how Kirk keeps failing upwards, as someone put it, but I felt like his story arc worked well enough. The cast is uniformly fantastic, although I would have liked a bit more John Cho; Zachary Quinto is just the best. (Speaking of whom... Benedict Cumberbatch just really does nothing for me, although I admit that he has a nice deep voice, and I enjoy a Badass Longcoat generally. I do like to refer to him as Cummerbund Bandersnatch, but in fairness, if I had a name that could be turned into "Bandersnatch," I would call myself that all the time. No lie, I would probably have my middle name legally changed to "Frumious.")
2) I was going to complain that all the terrorism was a bit more grimdark than the lighter, more hopeful worldview I associate with Star Trek, but... does what it says on the tin. Which is labeled Into Darkness.
3) I don't know why I felt the movie was too loud and busy, because I love action movies and head-punching and shit blowing up good. If you said, "You can see an action movie or a romantic comedy," I would pick the action movie, and if you said "You can only see a romantic comedy," I would go home. So it's not a genre thing. Maybe it's best epitomized by a Serious Dialogue Scene that's a sustained closeup of Benedict Cumberbatch's face... while the camera shakes for no reason at all. Not because the ship is experiencing any turbulence. Just because, apparently, the Steadicam operator drank all the coffee that day.
4) Of course Carol Marcus is in her undawears. Of course she is.
I think I would find the Starfleet miniskirts super cute if they had tights or pants underneath. I'm sorry, but ladies need knee coverings in space just as much as dudes do. Would Stardudes ever be running through the halls in hot pants? No? What's the difference? They're already running around in distractingly skintight bodysuits. How's it less appropriate if you just chop those off at the thigh? (Spoiler: it would be equally inappropriate.)
5) @marjoriemliu: I knew some dudes scripted Star Trek when the brilliant Uhura chose THE WORST MOMENT EVER to talk about her relationship with Spock. #cringe
I love Zoe Saldana, and she did get to be badass right after that. And I get that they needed to grab the first unoccupied moment they could to explain Spock's Logical Feels. But the way the scene played--even Kirk was like OMG SERIOUSLY UHURA, THIS IS WHAT WE'RE DOING NOW?
6) Sure, let's go mow down a couple dozen Klingons. That seems like a Starfleet thing to do.
7) Dialing up Old Spock was overly convenient, but I'll give you that one. My question is--did I completely miss something? Or did Old Spock actually say something like, "There's one way to defeat him" but we didn't hear what it was, presumably so it could be a surprise? And then... no one ever used One Surprise Way to defeat him? Was it the Vulcan Neck Pinch, which... didn't actually defeat him? I feel like I must have had a brain glitch there or something.
I did enjoy Spock losing his shit and trying to beat Khan into a fine paste, though. Look, the point in these movies isn't that Vulcans have no feelings--it's that they have such strong feelings that they control them with logic. I actually identify highly with this. Sometimes you just have to lose your shit and storm out there all like THE BATCH IS MINE.
8) I keep seeing people complain that Khan had no real motive, but it seemed pretty clear--simplistic, even--to me: he wants his family back. He loves his crew the way Kirk loves his, and I'm pretty sure Kirk would feel the same drive to save the Enterprise's crew if they were captured, though hopefully with a lot less terrorism. (Don't lie, you know he would wreck everyone's shit just to get to Spock.) I mean, in that sense, I felt there was a direct equivalency there that was kind of the through-line of the story, starting with Kirk's insistence at the beginning that he'd never lost a crew member. Which is why it then seemed kind of asking-for-it ridiculous when Spock decided to blow up all his people at him. Wait, you actually saved them in their cryotubes and just meant to fake Khan out with empty torpedoes? Well, you never got around to telling him that. Imagine if you made Kirk think that you'd blown up Spock, Uhura, Bones, Scotty, Sulu, Chekhov, etc. Shit would go down until there was no more down to go.
9) So... you've got 73 people with magical healing blood and you just... put them back in deep freeze?
("DON'T KILL HIM, SPOCK! WE NEED KHAN ALIVE!" "But... we've got like 72 people with magical healing blood back there in the fridge--" "WE NEED HIM BACK FOR SEQUELS.")
Unlike That Incident Last Summer, I don't have a critical hill I'm willing to die on here--nothing I'm willing to argue for 400 comments about. Basically, I'm opening up discussion so people can tell me why they did (or didn't) like the movie, because I am just utterly baffled as to why it's the kind of thing I should have liked, but didn't make much of an impression on me. I might possibly see it again if my mom wants to go, so I am totally open to anything that might make me see it differently a second time.